h1

GRACE

January 17, 2023

Offers hope

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a wonderful community visual art program that was established in 2019. It was well underway when the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it. It stumbled along during the pandemic gathering outside at the town gazebo and today it is thriving. The program is called GRACE and takes place in Brown Hall Community Center in Bucksport, Maine. The GRACE program provides free creative arts opportunities to seniors and other underserved populations. Participants are invited to explore and experiment through using a variety of materials to create art. No previous experience is necessary.

Several years ago Catherine Ring worked with the GRACE program in Hardwick, Vermont where she was living and working at the time. The philosophy: “Be yourself and do it your own way” connects very well with arts educators, artists and others in the creative world. The open studio idea has become a space for participants to meet, experiment and play with materials. They meet to make art and to connect socially. I was excited to learn more about the program that Catherine’s leadership brought to Bucksport. Periodically Catherine or other participants ‘teach’ a technique, offer guidance and facilitate depending on the wishes of the group. They share their ideas and art work, and provide feedback to each other.

Charlotte Bridges working on her linoleum prints

The GRACE program started as part of Lighthouse Arts & Education which was located in Bucksport at the time. Funding was provided through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Since then it has morphed into its own non-profit. Participants are not only nourishing their own creative needs but connecting with community. GRACE has exhibit space within Brown Hall Community Center and in 2021 worked with the Buck Memorial Library in town to create a collaborative mural for their newly renovated space.

The space where they meet is inviting and filled with books, resources and art supplies to encourage and support participants ideas and creative processes. I really enjoyed seeing the art on display and left very inspired. If you’re interested in learning more please contact Catherine Ring at THIS LINK.

The GRACE program offers so much and all are invited to participate. Board member and artist Charlotte Bridges who goes by Cha, started making art at age 55 said it best: “I love that they understand what we needed. I want to be guided and have a chance to play and experiment. I can’t stand to have people tell me how to do every step. We all get so much from each other.” Another participant, Linda Wagner said: We all benefit from each other. The feeling of being lifted up.

Zentangles made by GRACE participants

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: